calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: In a writ petition challenging the alleged illegal and arbitrary denial of appellant’s promotion, a division bench comprising of Rai Chattopadhyay* and V.M. Velumani, JJ., held that the promotion process appeared to have been conducted properly and without any apparent flaw. The Court affirmed the judgment of the Single Judge, stating that the appellant failed to substantiate claims of illegality or arbitrariness in the promotion process.

Factual Matrix

In the instant matter, the appellant-writ petitioner challenged the judgment of the Single Judge, dated 30-01-2009, in writ petition related to the alleged illegal and arbitrary denial of appellant’s promotion. The appellant joined Sagar Gramin Bank on 08-07-1986. Following an amalgamation of regional rural banks, Sagar Gramin Bank became Bangiyo Gramin Bikash Bank. The appellant, a Scheduled Caste candidate, claimed that he was eligible for promotion from clerical grade, as declared on 10-07-2006, to a vacant post but was denied in favor of Respondent 3, allegedly through an irregular and illegal process. The appellant preferred the writ petition seeking to set aside respondent 3’s promotion and obtain his own promotion. The Single Judge, vide judgment dated 30-01-2009, referred the matter to the Tribunal, stating it would be better suited for adjudication. Aggrieved by the impugned order of Single Judge, the appellant preferred the present appeal.

Parties’ Contentions

The appellant contended that the selection process violated the Regional Rural Banks (Appointment and Promotion of Officers and Other Employees) Rules, 1988, emphasising on the seniority-cum-merit principle. The appellant argued that he was qualified in the written test and interview, meeting the minimum merit standard, and should have been considered solely based on seniority thereafter. Reference is made to precedents supporting the ‘seniority-cum-merit’ principle, asserting that the respondent’s deliberate violation of statutory provisions.

The respondent contended that the selection process adhered to the prescribed rules and regulations, and respondent 3 was promoted based on superior merit. It was argued that the appellant’s appeal is belated, considering his acceptance of promotion in 2015 without protest, and subsequent retirement in 2021. The respondent contended that the appellant’s grievances lacked substance, as the selection process was conducted fairly and transparently.

Court’s Assessment

The Court examined the ‘seniority-cum-merit’ principle and the Regional Rural Banks (Appointment and Promotion of Officers and Other Employees) Rules, 1988. The Court reaffirmed the principle of seniority-cum-merit in promotion processes governed by specific rules and regulations. The Court stated that “as per the Rule of 1988, the process of assessment of merit does not conclude at the stage of completion of the written test but encompasses two other stages also to follow up that. The stage of interview and the stage of assessment of performance appraisal report would also be there for finally assessing a candidate on a scale of 100 marks.” The Court found that the selection process followed the prescribed criteria, with merit assessment extending beyond the written test. The Court emphasised on the importance of fulfilling minimum merit requirements before considering seniority and that the promotions require meeting minimum merit benchmarks beyond the written test stage.

Additionally, the Court highlighted the need for factual evidence to substantiate claims of illegality or arbitrariness in administrative decisions, particularly in promotion processes. The Court held that the appellant’s claim of arbitrariness is unsubstantiated and lacked evidence of a flawed selection process. The Court also placed emphasis on the appellant’s delayed challenge to the selection process, which undermined the current appeal.

“So far as the appellant’s grievance of exercise of illegality or arbitrariness in his case is concerned, that also is not found to have any merit in view of the fact that the entire selection process do not suffer from any apparent flaw and perversity or gross non-application of prescribed rules or procedure.”

The Court asserted that the appellant’s grievances regarding marks awarded, or seniority list involved factual determinations best suited for a fact-finding forum, not the Court’s writ jurisdiction. The Court stated that “the arbitrary action, of an authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India, is definitely amenable to writ jurisdiction. For that, the petitioner has to have sufficient material to show the arbitrariness to have been actually exercised and to be not an illusory concept only. Mere pleading of arbitrariness having been exercised would not be of any help for the pleader thereof, in case he is not able to substantiate the same with sufficient facts, figures and materials.”

Court’s Decision

The Court upheld the Single Judge’s decision to refer the matter to the Tribunal for adjudication of factual disputes, consequently, dismissing the appeal along with all connected applications.

[Ashoke Kumar Mondal v. Bangiyo Gramin Bikash Bank, 2024 SCC OnLine Cal 1459, order dated 13-02-2024]

*Judgment by Justice Rai Chattopadhyay

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Indranath Mitra, Mr. Neil Basu, Mr. Sankha Biswas, Counsel for the Appellant

Mr. Baidurya Ghosal, Counsel for the Respondent/State

Buy Constitution of India  HERE

Constitution of India

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.